Valentine’s Day is commonly referred to as a Hallmark holiday with the implication being that it was somehow manufactured for the sole purpose of siphoning money out of your wallet and into the hands of every teddy bear manufacturer, flower grower and chocolate supplier. The truth, though, is that Valentine’s Day is just like most other western holidays, a pagan holiday co-opted by Roman Christians because they couldn’t invent their own. Valentine’s Day began as Lupercalia, a pagan fertility celebration that was said to take place from the 13th to the 15th of February. (Who knows really… calendars were constantly changing back then.) The Romans took the middle of those and made it a feast day in honor of Saint Valentine, a bishop who married soldiers and their women in opposition to the emperor’s prohibition on marriage for young men. (source) Silly Christians… constantly stealing pagan holidays and calling it their own, Saturnalia/Christmas being the most egregious example.
History aside, this Valentine’s Day went uncelebrated between Jennifer and me. Being on the other side of the world takes away some of that romantic feeling associated with the holiday and makes it seem futile to celebrate. So we simply acknowledged each other with a “Happy Valentine’s Day” and left it at that. However, as it turns out, there actually was great cause for celebration on that day. You see I got paid that day as I always do in the middle of the month and with that paycheck I was finally able to pay off my credit card, the last remaining piece of my unsecured consumer debt. I’m not officially debt-free as I owe a shitload on my house, but that is a different type of debt that is looked upon favorably by the credit lending industry. Ha! Credit lenders! To hell with them! With my new financial freedom it’s conceivable that I won’t even need to use my credit card.
It’s taken me three years and six months to eliminate $36,000 of debt. It was a long road, but it’s been worth every minute of it. Granted, it was made easier by the fact that for two of those years I was able to live on less than $200 a week being that I was too busy with training to spend much money, but that doesn’t negate the fact that I made big sacrifices in order to live cheaply. More importantly though, in that time I learned a bit about myself, my spending habits and how money works in the world. I was able to modify my psyche and am now severely averse to debt and credit. So now instead of me taking a loan and paying some fatcat the interest, I have become the lender and the banks pay ME for the privilege of using my money. Life is grand. So Happy Valentines Day to me and everyone else for whatever reasons you have to celebrate. Hopefully Valentine’s Day 2011 will forever be remembered as the day I escaped debt and never looked back.
Now it’s on to build an emergency fund worth three months of my salary…